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Code of Ethics of Asian Federation for Psychotherapy
Accepted in October 2008, Beijing

The Asian Federation for Psychotherapy (AFP) is one of the continental organizations of the World Council for Psychotherapy (WCP). This Code of Ethics for psychotherapy practice is established by the Asian Federation for Psychotherapy itself.

This Code of Ethics serves the following purposes: it helps all the psychotherapists, psychologists-counselors, those who seek professional services and the general public to achieve a better understanding of the core ideas of the professional ethics as well as professional responsibilities in the field of psychotherapy practice. It serves an ethical guide designed to guarantee and promote the standards of the service provided in the field of psychotherapy. It helps to guarantee the rights and interests of those who seek professional service as well as that of all the psychotherapists in Asia. It helps promote the mental health status and enhance the welfare and wellbeing of the general public and the societies of Asian countries. This Code of Ethics applies for all the psychotherapists registered in AFP and thus serves as a basis for processing ethical complaints and inquiries initiated against those who register as a member of AFP.

General Principles
Beneficence: The primary purpose of the service provided by psychotherapists, psychologists-counselors is to benefit those who seek professional service. Psychotherapists should safeguard the rights of those who seek professional service. They should strive to provide the appropriate service to those needed and take great care to avoid harm.

Responsibility: Psychotherapists should maintain the high standard of their service and take responsibility for their own conducts. They should recognize their professional, ethical and legal responsibilities and maintain the reputation of the profession.

Integrity:Psychotherapists should strive to promote the honesty and truthfulness of their conducts in their clinical practices, research and teaching activities.

Justice: Psychotherapists should treat their work and those who work in their own professional field as well as other professionals with fairness and justice. They should take reasonable precaution to prevent inappropriate conducts due to their own potential biases or the limitations of their competencies and the techniques they use.

Respect: Psychotherapists should show their respect to every single person and respect the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality and self-determination.

Ethical standard 1: Professional Relationship
Psychotherapists should respect those who seek professional service and establish good professional working relationship with them in consistent with the AFP Code of Ethics. This working relationship should serve to encourage the growth and development of those who seek professional service in ways that foster their interests and welfare.
1.1 Psychotherapists should not discriminate against those who seek professional service based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion and political beliefs, culture, physical conditions, social economic status or any other factors.

1.2 Psychotherapists should respect the rights of those who seek professional service for informed consent. Before and during the processes of clinical service, psychotherapists should first inform those who seek professional service of the related information such as the purpose and aim of this professional service, the nature of the professional relationship, the techniques involved, the nature of the working process, the possible limitations of this professional service, the possible involvement of the interests and rights of the third party, the right of privacy, the possible harms and benefits caused by the professional service.

1.3 Psychotherapists should receive appropriate fees for their professional service in consistent with the requirements of local governments or their employing agency or institution or the client him/herself. Before entering the professional relationship, psychotherapists should give clear explanation on the way of establishing their fees to those who seek professional service.

1.4 Psychotherapists should recognize their own potential influence on those who seek professional service. They should take steps to prevent conditions that may impair trust in the professional relationship or cause dependency on the professional relationship.

1.5 Psychotherapists should respect the personal values of those who seek professional service. They should not make decisions for those who seek professional service or impose their own values on those who seek professional service.

1.6 Psychotherapists should recognize the potential influence on those who seek professional service due to their own advantageous status. They should not take advantage of the trust or dependency put on them from those who seek professional service to satisfy their own interests or needs,or that of the third party.

1.7 Psychotherapists should understand that the dual relationship (e.g. develop familial, social, financial, business, or intimate relationship with those who seek professional service) has the potential danger for exerting negative influence on their professional judgment and may cause harm to those who seek professional service. They should avoid entering dual relationship with those who seek professional service. If a certain kind of dual relationship is inevitable, they should take professional prevention measures, such as obtaining formal written informed consent from those who seek professional service, seeking professional supervision, maintaining records and files, to ensure that this kind of dual relationship will not impair their own judgment and cause harm to those who seek professional service.

1.8 Psychotherapists should not develop sexual of any kind with those who currently seek professional service from them. They should not provide psychotherapy for those who once had sexual or romantic intimate relationship with them. If the current professional relationship breaks the professional boundary (e.g. developing a sexual with those who are seeking professional service from them), psychotherapists should end the professional relationship immediately and take appropriate measures to handle the situation (e.g. seek supervision or consult other colleagues).

1.9 Psychotherapists are prohibited to develop any sexual with those who once sought professional service from them for a period of 3 years following the last professional contact. Before engaging in those kinds of relationship after 3 years following the last professional contact, psychotherapists should consider carefully the nature of the relationship to ensure that it is not an exploitive relationship.

1.10 Psychotherapist and counseling psychologist should not end or suspend their professional service arbitrarily. During the interruption such as going on errands, taking vacation or leaving their working place temporarily, they should make proper arrangements for the ongoing psychotherapy.

1.11 If psychotherapists believe that they are not appropriate to provide service to those who seek professional service, they should explain to them with clarity and refer them to another appropriate psychotherapist or psychologist-counselor.

1.12 Psychotherapists should achieve mutual understanding and respect in their professional interactions. They should also establish active and cooperative professional working relationship with their colleagues to promote the quality of their services.

1.13 Psychotherapists should respect professionals from other disciplines. They should form an active and cooperative working relationship with professionals from other related disciplines to promote the quality of their services.

Ethical standard 2: Privacy and Confidentiality
Psychotherapists have responsibility to protect the privacy of those who seek professional service. Meanwhile, they should also recognize that the contents and the limitations of this privacy are protected and restricted by laws and regulations of the local countries as well as the professional ethical principles.
2.1 At the initiation and throughout the process of their professional service, psychotherapists have responsibility to explain the principles of confidentiality as well as its limitations to those who seek professional service. Before the initiation of family therapy, group therapy or other kinds of psychotherapy, they should establish the principles of confidentiality among the therapeutic groups.

2.2 Psychotherapists should fully understand the limitations of the confidentiality. The exceptions of the confidentiality include: (1) Psychotherapists find out that those who seek professional service are in danger of causing foreseeable and serious harm on themselves or others. (2) Those who seek professional service are found to have diseases commonly know to be both communicable and life-threatening and thus may cause harm to others. (3) The cases of sexual abuse or other kinds of abuse involving minors are found. (4) The disclosure of information is demanded by laws of local countries.

2.3 If the conditions mentioned in 2.2(1), 2.2(2) and 2.2(3) are met, psychotherapists have obligation to warn in advance the legal guardian of those who seek professional service or the identified third party involved. If the condition mentioned in 2.2 (4) is met, psychotherapists have the obligation to follow the requirements of the law of local country. However, before the disclosure of any confidential information, psychotherapist should demand the formal written documentation or requirement from court or the parties involved as well as the assurance from the court or the parties involved that this disclosure will not cause direct or indirect harm to the clinical professional relationship.

2.4 Only after the written or oral form of informed consent is obtained from those who seek professional service, can psychotherapists record the process of psychotherapy through the use of tapes or videos, or demonstrate the process to others.

2.5 Information and documentations related to the professional service provided by psychotherapists such as case records, assessment and evaluation materials, correspondences, tape records, videotapes or other materials are classified as professional information. These kinds of information should be kept in a secure location and only authorized psychotherapists can access to them.

2.6 If psychotherapists have case discussions of their psychotherapy cases, or use clinical cases as illustration in teaching, research activities and publications due to the needs of professional purpose, they should prevent the identification of those who seek professional service by omitting the related personal information (except that the formal written informed consent is obtained from those who seek professional service).

2.7 Psychotherapists should obtain formal written permissions from those who seek professional service before the demonstration of the tape-recordings or the videos of the sessions or the publication of the whole cases.

Ethical standard 3: Professional Responsibility
Psychotherapists should observe the laws and regulations of local countries as well as professional ethical principles. They should also strive to achieve an open, honest and accurate attitude in their communication and work. They should base their professional work on the scientific researches and findings. They should work with a responsible attitude within the boundaries of professional and personal competence. They should continue to renew and expand their professional knowledge and actively participant in self-care activities to maintain and promote their psychical, social and mental well-beings to best meet their professional responsibilities.
3.1 Psychotherapists should provide appropriate and effective professional service to different groups of people within the boundaries of personal competence and in consistent with the levels of their own education, training and supervision experience as well as their work experience.

3.2 Psychotherapists should fully recognize the importance of continuing education. They should maintain the reasonable awareness of current scientific and professional information in their working field. They should maintain the competence of the skills they use and be open towards new knowledge.

3.3 Psychotherapists should attend to their professional competence and take reasonable steps to seek the help from professional supervision if needed. If they can not find professional supervision, they should try to seek professional help from their colleagues.

3.4 Psychotherapists should engage in self-care activities. When they are aware of any personal physical, mental or social problems that may cause harm to those who seek professional service, they should seek supervision or the help of other professionals. They should be alert of the possibility of causing harm, due to their personal problems, to those who receive their services. If necessary, they should limit, suspend or terminate their clinical practice.

3.5 When psychotherapists have needs to introduce themselves in their work, they should identify their professional qualifications, educational degrees, and credentials in an accurate and honest manner. If advertisements or presentations of their service are needed, they should present their professional qualifications accurately. They should not depreciate other professionals, or represent oneself or one's own employing agency or institution in a false, misleading or deceptive manner. Fraudulency is strictly forbidden.

3.6 Psychotherapists should not take advantage of their professional status to satisfy their personal interests, such as to satisfy their own interests, sexual needs, and unfair exchange of properties or services, or to satisfy those interests and needs of their family members. They should not take advantage of the therapeutic, teaching, training and supervisory relationship to satisfy their additional interests other than reasonable remuneration.

3.7 If psychotherapists need to report their professional work to the third party (e.g. court, insurance company and etc.), they should present their work in an honest, objective and accurate manner.

3.8 When psychotherapists engage in their professional activities by means of media (e.g. public lectures, demonstrations, radio or television program, newspaper, printed articles, internet and etc.), or provide advice or comment as professionals, they should be aware that their statements should be based on the appropriate professional literature and practice, and respect the facts and objectivity. They should also be aware that their statements and conducts should be consistent with professional ethical principles and principle of confidentiality.

Ethical standard 4: Assessment and Evaluation
Psychotherapists should correctly understand the importance as well as the role psychological assessment and evaluation played in clinical practice. They should use assessment and evaluation properly. During the process of assessment and evaluation, Psychotherapists should consider the personal and cultural background of examinees. They should promote the welfares of those who seek professional service by developing and using appropriate educational, psychological and career assessment instruments.
4.1 The primary purpose of using assessment and evaluation is to promote the welfares of those who seek professional service. Psychotherapists should not misuse assessment or evaluation in order to achieve financial interests.

4.2 Psychotherapists can only use assessment instruments or perform evaluation after they have received related training on psychological assessment and have obtained appropriate knowledge and skills for specific assessment instruments or evaluative methods.

4.3 Psychotherapists should respect the rights of those who seek professional service for understanding the results of their assessment and evaluation as well as receiving the explanation and interpretation of their results. After assessment or evaluation, they should give explanations of assessment or evaluation results to those examinees in an accurate, objective and understandable manner. They should strive to avoid the misunderstanding of the assessment or evaluation results.

4.4 When scoring or giving explanation or interpretation by using certain tests or assessment instruments, or utilizing certain evaluative methods, interviews or other assessment instruments, psychotherapists should use those instruments and methods that have affirmed reliability and validity. If no data concerning the reliability and validity of the assessment instrument or method are available, they should explain the applications and limitations of assessment results and interpretations.

4.5 Psychotherapists have responsibility to maintain the integrity and security of psychological testing materials (i.e. testing manuals, assessment instruments, contracts and test items) and other assessment instruments. They should not reveal the related testing contents to non-professionals.

4.6 Psychotherapists should use scientific procedures and professional knowledge to develop assessment instrument, as well as to establish the standardization, reliability and validity of the instrument. They should strive to avoid biases and provide detailed explanation of its usage.

Ethical standard 5: Teaching, Training and Supervision
Psychotherapists should aspire to develop meaningful and respectful professional relationship. They should show a sincere, serious and responsible attitude towards teaching, training and supervision activities.
5.1 The primary purpose for psychotherapists to engage in teaching, training and supervision is to foster the personal and professional growth and development of students, trainees and supervisees and promote their welfares.

5.2 Psychotherapists who engage in teaching, training and supervision should be familiar with the professional Code of Ethics. They should remind students and supervisees of their professional ethical obligations.

5.3 Psychotherapists who are responsible for teaching and training should take appropriate steps to properly design and arrange their courses and teaching plans to ensure that teaching and training will provide appropriate knowledge and practice experience as well as meet the requirements of teaching goals or standards of the specific certificate.

5.4 Psychotherapists who serve as supervisor should explain to their supervisees the purpose, process as well as the method and standards for evaluation of the supervision. They should inform their supervisees of the way for dealing certain conditions during the process of supervision, such as emergencies, and interruption or termination of the supervisory relationship. They should give regular feedbacks to supervisees during the process of supervision and avoid situations where supervisees may cause harm to those who seek professional service due to the negligence of the supervisor.

5.5 When psychotherapists who serve as trainers or supervisors evaluate the professional competence of students in training or supervisees, they should take an objective attitude and give their evaluations in an honest, fair and impartial manner.

5.6 Psychotherapists who serve as trainers or supervisors should clearly define the professional as well as the ethical relationship with their students and supervisees. They are prohibited to form any therapeutic relationship with their students or supervisees. Sexual relationships with their students or supervisees are also prohibited. They should not form any supervisory relationship or therapeutic relationship with professionals who are their relatives or have intimate relationship with them.

5.7 Psychotherapists who serve as trainers or supervisors should clearly recognize their advantageous status compared with their students or supervisees. They should not take advantage of their status to exploit students or supervisees or to satisfy the interests of their own or that of the third party.

Ethical standard 6: Research and Publication
Psychotherapists are encouraged to engage in professional research activities to make contributions to the development of their professional disciplines as well as to facilitate and improve the understanding of related issues within their disciplines. When conducting research, psychotherapists should respect the dignity of participants and be aware of the welfare of participants. They should observe scientific standards and ethical principles governing research with human research participants.
6.1 Psychotherapists who conduct research with human participants should respect the basic human rights. They should conduct research in a manner that is consistent with pertinent ethical principles, laws, host institutional regulations and scientific research standards with human participants. They should take responsibility to ensure the security of their participants and take reasonable precaution to avoid causing harm to participants' interests.

6.2 Prior to start their research, psychotherapists should inform participants or obtain informed consent from participants or guardians of participants. They should explain to participants about the nature, purpose and process of the research, the methods and techniques used in the research, the possible discomfort, confidentiality and its limitations as well as the rights and obligations of both researchers and participants.

6.3 Participants are free to choose not to participate in the research or withdraw from the research. Psychotherapists are prohibited to force people to participate in their research. They can use involuntary participants only when they are certain that the research will not cause harm to participants, and there is justified need to conduct the research.

6.4 Psychotherapists should not treat participants in a deceptive or cheating manner unless alternative procedures are not feasible and the prospective value of the research justifies the deception. If the research involves deception, psychotherapists should explain the reasons for this action during the debriefing.

6.5 If control group is needed in intervention research, after the research, the participants in the control group should be given appropriate treatment.

6.6 When writing research reports, psychotherapists should provide accurate explanation and discussion about their research designs, processes, results as well as the limitations of the research. They should not use false or distort information or data. They should not conceal those results that are not consistent with their hypotheses or theoretical viewpoints. They should avoid biases or prejudice in the discussions of their research.

6.7 When writing research reports, psychotherapists should take due care to disguise the identities of respective participants (except that the formal written authorizations from participants are obtained). They should also take care to ensure the confidentiality of the related research materials and keep them in safety.

6.8 Psychotherapists should not plagiarize in their publication of research paper or book. If they cite ideas or data of other researchers or authors in their own research paper or book, they should acknowledge researchers or authors cited as well as the sources of data.

6.9 If the research is jointly done with other colleagues, psychotherapists should give credit through appropriate means to other authors in research paper or book published. They should not publish the research paper or book as their personal work. They should acknowledge and give special credit through appropriate means to those who have made special contributions to the research paper or book. If the research paper or book is substantially based on students' course papers, dissertations or theses, the students should be listed as principal authors.

Ethical standard 7: Resolving Ethical Issues
Psychotherapists should observe pertinent laws of local countries and ethical principles in their professional work. They should try to resolve ethical dilemmas and communicate with people involved in a direct and open manner. They should seek suggestion or help from their colleagues or supervisors if needed. They should incorporate ethical practices into their daily professional work.
7.1 Psychotherapists can obtain AFP Code of Ethics from AFP. Lack of related knowledge or misunderstanding of AFP Codes of Ethics is not a defense against a charge of unethical conducts.

7.2 Once they are aware of their negligence in their work or misunderstanding of their responsibilities, psychotherapists should take reasonable steps to correct their conducts.

7.3 If there is a conflict between AFP Code of Ethics and pertinent laws and regulations of local countries, psychotherapists should make known their commitments to AFP Code of Ethics and try to resolve the conflict. If this conflict can not be resolved, psychotherapists may adhere to the requirements of laws and regulations of local countries.

7.4 If the demands of their employing agency or institution pose a conflict with AFP Code of Ethics, psychotherapists should specify the nature of this conflict and make know their commitments to AFP Code of Ethics. They should resolve this conflict reasonably while keeping their commitments to AFP Code of Ethics.

7.5 If they find that other AFP members have violated a professional ethical principle, psychotherapists should attempt first to resolve the issue informally with the colleagues. If this informal attempt fails, they should report violations through a proper means. If the violation is apparent and has already caused substantial harm, or this violation can not be solved through appropriate informal means, or can not be solved at all, psychotherapists should report this violation to AFP Ethics Working Panel or other appropriate authorities, so as to maintain the reputation of the profession as well as to protect the interests of those who seek professional service. If psychotherapists are uncertain whether a specific situation or conduct is an ethical violation, they may seek consultation from AFP Ethics Working Panel or other appropriate authorities.

7.6 Psychotherapists have responsibility to assist the attempts of AFP Ethics Working Panel to investigate possible unethical conducts and to take actions towards such conducts. Psychotherapists should be familiar with pertinent procedures and policies for processing complaints of ethical violations.

7.7 AFP Code of Ethics is against filing complaints of ethical violations in an unfair and injustice manner or as a means to take revenge.

7.8 AFP Ethics Working Panel is affiliated to AFP. The functions of AFP Ethics Working Panel are to enforce AFP Code of Ethics, to accept filings of complaints of ethical violations, to provide explanations and interpretations related to AFP Code of Ethics, as well as to process cases of professional ethical violations.
© 2007-2009 Asian Federation for Psychotherapy.
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